Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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" We shall make a quick trip home," said
Donald, his spirits insensibly rising, as he
thought of the lively Sea Bird flying before the

He had Roberta s hand clasped in his own,
and they were walking slowly together across
the shingle to the small pier. Mr. Balfour and
Maclane were a little behind them. They were
a trifle quiet and sad.

" I am sorry to leave you so soon, Balfour,
but I shall never forget the day I spent with

" Shall I not see you again before you go to
southward ?"

" Not this year. My visit to Sir Rolfe Tor-
quil is over ; but it is likely I may rent a shoot
ing-range from him next year."

" Then Donaid s father is a nobleman ?"

"Has he not told you so? That is like
Donald. Anything that would look like boast
ing would be hateful to him. He is a fine

Undercurrents. 85

" Still he should have told me. I have a
daughter you see that he has won her love ;
a baronet may think his son too noble for

" Miss Balfour outranks any man, I care not
what his station."

" I surely think so. She is the daughter of
one of God s ministers, and he is king of kings.
I have never heard Donald speak of brothers ;
is he the only son ?"

" The only son, and the heir. At present they
are not rich, but the estate is large, and can be
made very profitable under the new method.
The family is a very old one ; the Torquils have
been in Ross since the floods whateffer, as one
of their gillies told me."

" I have no skill in these Highland geneal
ogies, and I am a stranger in Ross."

"They have held their own well. I suppose
their isolation has saved them, for they have
been a restless lot. It took Culloden to cure

86 Undercurrents.

" Culloden cured many restless, troublesome
families. They were for the Stuarts, then ?"

" Rank Jacobites. It was a matter of con
science with them. The Stuarts represented
Catholicism, so they fought for the Stuarts. As
a race, they considered them far from being
pretty fellows. The Torquils were too rug
gedly brave and honest for any other opinion."

"Then they are Roman Catholics? They are
Roman Catholics at the present time ? Donald
Torquil is a Roman Catholic? Do you mean to
tell me these things are so ?" He spoke with a
stern decision, and stood still, and looked
squarely into Maclane s face for the answer.

" Certainly, sir. Donald is a very devout
Catholic. Without pretense or demonstration,
I yet consider him a sincerely religious young
man. The fact has struck me very pleasantly.
It is a rare characteristic in young men now."

" I am very sorry. Very sorry, indeed."

" Sorry that the young man is religious ?"

"That he is a Roman Catholic. You must

Under cu rren ts. 87

understand this information means a heart-break
to my Roberta. He ought to have told us he
ought to have told us ! He has behaved very
badly. I will not speak to him again. I cannot
speak now. Permit me to say farewell to you
here, and make what apology you please for me.
I will not see the young man now. I must think
over the matter. It is a great blow to me, sir."
He showed it so plainly, Maclane understood
the wisdom of his resolve. He had lost every
vestige of color; his eyes were somber and
troubled ; he could scarcely command his voice.
For a moment or two, they stood saying the few
courteous words that were all they could say
under the circumstances. Donald and Roberta
had gone on board ; they were so interested in
themselves they had forgotten their companions.
Mr. Balfour pointed out this fact, and turned
away with an angry dejection, a look of mingled
reproach, fear and sorrow, such as Maclane had
never before seen, and which he knew he should
never forget.


The wretched father went straight to his
home. He was angry when he parted with
Maclane ; his anger gathered with every moment
of Roberta s stay ; and she lingered something
longer than was necessary. The fresh wind, the
bright morning, the presence of Donald, all
tempted her to delay. She also grieved that
her father should, for any reason, omit the last
courtesy to Donald. Maclane, scarcely know
ing how to excuse him, had blundered out some
thing concerning a forgotten engagement a
thing Roberta did not believe in. So, partly as
a compensation to her lover, and partly as a
symptom of disapproval to her father, she stayed
upon the Sea Bird until Mr. Balfour was well
minded to put on his hat and plaid and go and
bring her home.

At this climax of his anger and impatience,
she returned. He saw she had been crying ;
that she was inclined to be silent and indiffer
ent ; that, in short, all her fine spirits and sunny
smiles and pretty ways had disappeared with

Undercurrents. 89

Donald, and he naturally enough resented the
secondary place to which he had fallen.

" What is the matter with you, Roberta?"

" Nothing, father."

" Why have you then altered so much ? You
were gay enough an hour ago."

" Circumstances have changed, father."

" You mean that Donald Torquil is no longer
here to be charmed ?"

" Donald was badly treated. Why did you
not come fifty yards further and say good-bye
to him ? I was ashamed of you, father ; and I
never was ashamed of you before."

" Never dare to say such words to me again,
Roberta. When it is a question between a
father and a lover, a good girl will believe her
father to be right until she knows he is wrong.
You have known me all your life known me
intimately ; you have known this youth a few
weeks, and that only very slightly whom
should you trust first?"

90 Undercurrents.

" I hate that Maclane. I am sure he has told
you some wicked lies about Donald."

" He told me that, which if Donald Torquil
had been a gentleman, he himself had told me
long ago. He told me that Donald is a Roman
Catholic ; that his family have always been
Roman Catholics Jacobites and Roman Catho
lics ! Followers of the bloody Stuarts, and all
their tyrannies and abominations !"

" The Stuarts are dead and gone, all of them.
Is Donald to be hated for his ancestors ?"

" Yes, he is ! If a man is to be honored for
his ancestors, just and right also is it that he
should be hated for them. Because of what my
ancestors did for the Covenant I have honor
this day. Because of what Donald s ancestors
did against freedom and the kirk of Scotland, he
shall have scaith and dishonor this day. Both
conclusions are just. If the fathers eat sour
grapes, then the teeth of the children must be
set on edge. It is the word of the Lord, and I
trust that neither I nor bairn of mine will dare

Undercurrents. 91

to set themselves against the ways of the
Almighty s council."

"What is your meaning, father? Say the
straight word to me. I do not want to hear
Donald preached about."

" Do you want the straight, plain word ?
You shall have it. It is that you neither shall
see nor speak more with that young reprobate."

" Father ! Can your word make any one
reprobate ?"

" I ask God s pardon. I know not that he is
yet reprobate. It may be that His mercy will
yet call the lad. But until then you shall
neither see him nor speak with him nor write to
him. If he had every perfection under the blue
heaven and was a Roman Catholic, he should
not have you for his wife. No, by the Solemn
League and the Holy Covenant, he should
not !"

" Though I speak with the tongues of men
and angels, though 1 have the gift of prophecy,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

92 . Undercurrents.

though I have all faith so that I could remove
mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
They are not my words, father, and you need
not be angry at me for them."

" You are quoting Scripture, as women
always quote it, clean beside the mark. Go to
your own room, Miss Balfour, and consider
your words and your ways ; for mind this :
Nothing, nothing, nothing shall ever make me
give a father s welcome to Donald Torquil !
Do you think 1 am going to give the Torquils a
chance to count the Balfour martyrs and con
fessors among their old papistical, paternoster-
ing ancestors? I am not that wicked, I hope."

" But, father"

" Go your ways into solitude, and think shame
of yourself, Miss Balfour. I have no other
word to say to you at this hour."



I have seen the desire of mine eyes,

The beginning of love,
The season of kisses and sighs,

And the end thereof."

" Mother most tender, help thy poor child,
Haste with thy succor, Maid undented !
Amiable Mother, stainless and fair,
Take a fair creature into thy care !"

"Now for a dance before the wind," said
Donald, and he laid his hand upon the anchor
chain, and, with a boy s help, brought it aboard,
hand over hand. Then the Sea Bird went flying
down the Minch, ducking and plunging to the
short rollers. Her sails were wet with the
spray showers, and the wind pressed her almost

94 Saras Lover.

like a solid wall the keen life-laden wind of the
wild North Sea while Maclane and Donald
experienced an exultation no one can understand
who has not felt the glorious sense of freedom
and power, that managing a boat with a brisk
breeze and a high sea can give.

The two men were smoking, both sensible of
the cheering, inspiring air about them, and yet
both a little thoughtful and silent. Donald had
noticed the return of Mr. Balfour, and his heart
had experienced one of those sudden premoni
tions of coming evil, which the wisest are unable
to reason away. He waited a little to see if
Maclane would offer any explanation of the cir
cumstance, but as he did not do so, Donald
abruptly made the inquiry :

" Why did Mr. Balfour return home without
bidding me good-bye ?"

" We had been talking of you and your family,
and I inadvertently alluded to its religion and

" Was he angry at my religion ?"

Saras Lover. 95

" At your concealment of it he was angry."
" I am afraid you have made me a great sor
row, Maclane."

. " There is always sorrow in deception, Donald.
At the first, you ought to have made all clear.
When you sit day after day on a man s hearth
stone and win his daughter, he has a right to
know exactly what and who you are. Why did
you not tell him ? The night that he saved you
from the sea and asked you to his home was
your fortunate hour. If then he had continued
his courtesy, he could not have blamed you ; if,
on the contrary, he had made you understand
then that your faith and family were insuperable
objections to friendship, you, at that time, could
have easily resigned yourself to a disappoint
ment about Roberta Balfour."

" No ; I could not. In the very first hour of
our meeting, it would have been impossible to
resign her. I hoped to win both father and
daughter so entirely that my family and faith
both accidents of birth for which I am not

96 Sara s Lover.

responsible would be accepted with me. How
could I imagine they would be less tolerant than
myself ?"

"Then you know nothing of the Lowland
Scots. They are all intense theologians. Mat
ters of church discipline and government are
articles of their salvation, and there is not one of
them who would not go to the stake for his own
particular views on the subject. This very Mr.
Balfour gave up one of the richest churches in
Scotland for a quibble in the ecclesiastical court
affecting the spiritual authority of the kirk only ;
and, though a man of good family and profound
scholarship, preferred an isolated parish among
illiterate peasants, with his principles, to a
wealthy, cultivated one, with some one s else

" But what have theology and church govern
ment to do with my love for Roberta ?"

" You will find that they have a great deal to
do with it. You will have to give up Roberta
Balfour, I am sure."

Saras Lover. 97

" Never. She may give me up. I shall never,
never resign her."

" I cannot understand why a young man so
candid as you are, did not at the first tell Mr.
Balfour your real social standing. It was
scarcely honorable. He has a right to feel hurt
at you."

" No ; you cannot understand a lover s fears
and doubts and hesitations ; his desire to let well
alone ; his dread of explanations ; his preference
for a delicious uncertainty, not devoid of hope,
to a positive position, which might be one of
despair. Nor can you understand, perhaps,
that I might wish to woo and win Roberta as a
simple gentleman. Women are very much
influenced by position and by title ; I wanted
Roberta to accept Donald Torquil ; when she
had done so, I intended to tell her what
social advantages I could give her with my

" You reasoned like a romantic, inexperienced
young man."

98 Sara s Lover.

" It takes a lover to understand a lover," said
Donald, and he spoke with some irritation.

Maclane looked at him kindly, and for a
moment there was a shadow of uncertainty in
his manner ; then he said :

"Come into the cabin, Donald; I want to
tell you something; and the swash of the sea,
and the wind blowing the waves, make talking
difficult. Now we are more comfortable. You
say it takes a lover to understand a lover well,
then, I am far more deeply in love than you are.
A boy of twenty-two can only love like a boy of
twenty-two ; a man of forty loves with a
strength and passion that only a matured soul
can nourish."

" I might have known it. Who could see
Roberta and not "

"It is not Roberta; be easy, quite easy, on
that ground. I shall never be your rival. It is
Miss Torquil that 1 love. All other women
seem to me plain and colorless beside her."


Saras Lover. 99

" Yes, she is the one woman I have ever
desired. When you have exhausted words in
describing- Roberta Balfour, I would not have
found a sentence worthy of your sister. In my
case, also, it was a love born perfect. The first
moment I saw Miss Torquil, I was as much
enthralled as I am. at this hour; because I loved
her then with every capacity of my nature.
Now, I did at once what you ought to have
done. I asked on the second day of my visit
for an interview with Sir Rolfe. I said to him :
Sir, I love Miss Torquil. I can never love her
more or love her less than I do now. I desire
to marry her. I can give her such and such
advantages. I will settle upon her absolutely
such and such money and property. "

"And what did my father say?"

" He answered : Mr. Maclane, I am obliged
by your confidence. I shall be glad to give you
my daughter if she is willing to be your wife.
I asked then that he would respect my con-

TOO Saras Lover.

fession. I had your sister to woo, but the way
to her favor was so far clear."

" And I hope, with all my heart, that you will
win Sara."

" I am not easily discouraged, Donald. There
are nicks in time which a man has only to be
on the watch for, and success is in them. I am
not fanciful and unreasonable. I do not expect
Miss Torquil to love me after a Byronic or Tom
Moore-ish fashion. If I can gain her respect
and friendship, I shall feel that I have a noble
foundation laid, and I can trust her for her love.
A good woman is a generous and a grateful
woman ; she will give love for love, if only she
be sure of her Husband s pure and perfect
devotion to her. That is my theory. I can
trust it."

Involuntarily the young man put out his hand,
and the elder s closed upon it. Maclane s face
was calm and happy ; Donald s eyes were shin
ing through tears ; the youth had not yet
learned to control his emotions, but his com-

Saras Lover. 101

panion trusted and respected them. He under
stood that this excess of feeling in youth made a
tolerant middle-age and a mellow old one.

" What would you advise me to do,
Maclane ?"

" See Mr. Balfour as soon as you can. You
may not succeed in persuading or even in paci
fying him, but it is right for you to try. Frankly,
I do not think you will succeed."

" Then, what ?"

" Can you give up the girl ?"

" If I give up life not unless."

" There is no such question, Donald. Life is
not yours to give up. Let us avoid hyperboles.
Does Roberta love you?"

" Yes as I love her."

" Then you cannot give her up. You must
wait. Everything comes to those who can

" Would you tell Sir Rolfe ?"

" There seems to be no necessity to trouble
him with an affair so very uncertain. It should

IO2 Saras Lover.

be your object to get closer to your father, not
to put another disagreement between you ; and
he would certainly regard a marriage between
you and Roberta Balfour as a very great

This conversation, varied and extended in all
its points, filled with unceasing interest the
hours of their sail home. Near Erbusaig they
were delayed by mist and squalls coming up
through Raasay Sound, and the Sea Bird had to
stagger along under double reef until Torquil
Harbor was across her bow. Then a long tack
had to be made, so that it was the middle of the
morning when they cast anchor.

" It is my last sail for some months," said
Maclane. " To-morrow I must go back to busi
ness. But I have had a memorable holiday,
Donald, though quite a different one from what
1 anticipated."

" You have taken the ocean instead of the
hills as a restorer."

" You must remember I am an inland man,

Saras Lover. 103

and when I needed recreation, the mountains
were the most natural suggestions. But as soon
as I saw the sea I knew what I wanted. I must
buy a boat of my own, Donald, then we can
have some fine racing. I will write to some
good builder about one as soon as I get home."

" Better by far have it built in Ross. They
know the kind of boat for these seas. The Sea
Bird will keep right side up when a fine fancy
yacht will be running wild and going bottom up
over her crew. Have a Ross boat for Ross
seas ; in a storm she ll edge away to windward
under a bit of canvas, and bring you safe into
harbor. Angus Mackenzie and his father built
the Sea Bird, and v. r e launched her to a flowing
tide, with her prow foremost. It was Sara who
sent her off in the old Gael fashion. She would
send yours off, too, I am sure, and then she
would take luck with her."

Maclane smiled. " I should like to see her do
it ; I would believe in that luck."

" I never saw Sara so beautiful as she was on

IO4 Saras Lover.

that morning when we launched the Sea Bird.
There was a good breeze of wind, and it flut
tered her dress and scarf, and she looked so tall
and splendid, that I could not help thinking of
those old Norse sea-queens that we read so
much about in the sagas especially when she
stood far out at the bow, and chanted the launch
charm :

" From rocks and sands,
And barren lands,
And ill men s hands,

Keep free.
Well in, well out,
With a good shout /

" And then the wine was spilt and the men
cried, Off ! and off she went, dancing and cour-
tesying like a lady."

" Very pleasant ; we will have another launch,
and Miss Torquil, I hope, will be sea-priestess
again, Donald?"

" I hope so." The words were said upon the
door-step, as Fergus set it wide open for their
entrance. He looked at both Maclane and

Saras Lover. 105

Donald with disapprobation. He understood
that Maclane had come to Torquil to shoot ; he
regarded shooting as the recreation for gentle
men. " Straf aging about the Minch in a small
poat wass not respectable whateffer ;" and he
felt hurt at Donald lowering the tone of their
visitors by decoying any one from the hills to
the salt-water.

" Sir Rolfe hass peen seeking you, Maistir
Tonalf, and he wass saying, he will pe to seek
you, anywhere at all, between Torquil and
Stornoway. Ou, ay, people that will be know
ing, Maistir Tonalt, say, it iss always the same
port the Sea Bird goes for ; they are saying that
whateffer. North, ay, north ; I m seeing that
fine mysel ."

" I hope you have not said so to Sir Rolfe,
Fergus. You promised never to look which
way I went."

" A man iss not carin to shut his eyes too
often, Maistir Tonalt, and Father Contach him
self asking me the way. It s no for the like of

io6 Saras Lover.

me to be telling a real goot man like Father
Contach what iss not the truth. He wass at the
castle last night, and he wass shaking hands with
me, and he wass saying : So Maistir Tonalt is
on the sea again, and which way iss it he will be
taking whateffer, Fergus ? "

" And you told him ?"

" I did not tell him, but I will haf to tell him
of the lie whateffer at my next confession , and it
iss many a time I haf gone round my beads for
you alreadty, Maistir Tonalt."

" Don t be cross, Fergus. What did the Father
say ? Or rather, what did you say to him ?"

" 1 saidt : You will haf to ask himself, Father.
They were telling me he wass going north, and
they were telling me he wass going south, and
some, mirover, were saying it wass to Rona
whateffer the Sea Bird flew but I was not
knowing myself. That is what I saidt, and the
father looket sharp at me, and he saidt : That
iss no way to speak, Fergus. If you will pe say
ing your prayers to-night and surely you will

Saras Lover. 107

pe saying them maybe, to-morrow, you will
pe knowing if it pe to the north or south or west
the Sea Bird goes. And so, maybe, if you will
pe saying your own prayers, Maistir Tonalt, you
will not pe wanting an old man, who hass ferry
little time left for praying, to pe telling the lie
for you."

At that hour, life seemed a very dull, hopeless
affair to Donald. Mr. Balfour s anger, Father
Matthew s suspicions, and the ill-temper of Fer
gus, being all knots in the same tangled skein of
circumstances. He did not even feel as if Mac-
lane s sympathy had been all he might have
expected from him, and he began to change his
clothing with an utter weariness of the condi
tions of his life. For youth is the time when
these pallid despairs have their greatest power.
Men in mid life know that there are few troubles
that are really as bad as they appear to be ; and
old men feel that their journey is nearly over,
and that no contradiction of sorrow can hurt
them very long. So, it is youth that dashes its

io8 Saras Lover.

head against the insurmountable wall of circum
stances ; when years bring wisdom, the same
man will recognize that the wall is the absolute,
and he will make a friend of it and walk under
its shelter.

The twenty years difference in the ages of
Maclane and Donald put between them just this
difference in their way of looking at life. Mac-
lane was as far sympathetic as it was possible for
him to be. He remembered, also, his own
youthful extravagances of emotion, and watched
Donald under the same excesses with a senti
ment in which disapproval and envy were curi
ously mixed. Loving, perhaps, quite as passion
ately as Donald, he was still able to restrain
impetuosities which might injure his pretensions,
and to affect that wise and calm devotion which
was more suitable to his years.

Yet never a lover s heart beat more warmly
and tenderly than his when he perceived that
fortune had given him the opportunity he had
been watching for. He had made his usual

Saras Lover. 109

most fastidious toilet and enjoyed the late break
fast which Fergus had served him, and then, hav
ing lit his cigar, was about to take a walk in the
court, when Miss Torquil, glowing with health
and beauty, returned from her ride.

" I have left Lord Lenox on the moor," she
said, gayly. " A wing of plover, followed by a
pack of grouse, were too much for him or
rather, too much for me, for he left me to pur
sue them."

" How could he be so insensible ?"

" He expected to be insensible. He took his
gun with him at least he sent a gilly with it to
the Black Cairn. When the two men met, 1 had
not a chance, I assure you. You should have
seen their faces ; I feel sure that Lord Lenox
was very glad to leave me to the care of my

Maclane lifted her from the saddle, followed
her into the breakfast-parlor, and procured her
a cup of coffee. She sat down before the fire
to drink it ; and, very soon, they fell into an

HO Saras Lover.

easy conversation about Donald and their recent
sail, and Mr. Maclane s near departure. At first
it was animated and continuous, but gradually
Maclane s intense feeling became only half-
veiled, his questions were absently asked, his
answers as absently made. Little intervals
of silence fell between them. Sara began to be
aware of an atmosphere strange and full of fate ;
she was anxious to escape from it, and struggling
against her sensibility to it, when Maclane
spoke :

" Miss Torquil, I am going away, as you know,
to-morrow, but 1 shall leave all the sweetest and
strongest hopes of my life with you. I am sure

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe beads of Tasmer → online text (page 4 of 16)